Will Governor Dayton Sign or Veto Omnibus Bills Today?

The special legislative session wrapped up before dawn last Friday with a flurry of bills on their way to Gov. Dayton; K-12 Education, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Taxes, among others. The budget for the next biennium? A whopping $46 billion.

I noted last week that general fund spending is poised to increase by about $10 billion under Gov. Dayton in just three budget cycles. Without fiscal conservatives in the legislature, it would be much more.

I also wrote last week that Dayton had the normal three days (not counting Sunday) to sign or not to sign but because the Legislature adjourned Gov. Dayton has fourteen (14) days to make his decision, though I think Minnesotans would appreciate getting this handled right now. My state representative Cindy Pugh kindly called me from her cabin to set me straight while I was watching Almanac on Friday night.

Article IV, Section 23 of the Minnesota State Constitution governs the approval of bills by governor; action on veto. Here is the pertinent language:

Any bill passed during the last three days of a session may be presented to the governor during the three days following the day of final adjournment and becomes law if the governor signs and deposits it in the office of the secretary of state within 14 days after the adjournment of the legislature. Any bill passed during the last three days of the session which is not signed and deposited within 14 days after adjournment does not become a law.

Here is some of the discussion from The Morning Take on what happened and what might happen next:

Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Pioneer Press, VERBATIM: “Now Dayton must decide whether to sign the budget plans into law…On Friday afternoon, just hours after the Legislature closed up shop for the year, Dayton adamantly refused to “rush to judgment” on the fate of those bills. DAYTON: “I’m genuinely undecided on all of them,” the governor said. “I am just not going to take a position on any of the bills … I’m not going to speculate on what I may or may not do.”…The governor — who personally negotiated major swaths of the budget bills and was still talking to lawmakers about them at 1 a.m. Friday — said it does weigh on him that sectors of the state government might have to shutter if he vetoes any of the budget bills. He was governor during the last government shutdown in 2011.”   (emphasis added)

Tim Pugmire of MPR, VERBATIM: “If Dayton rejects any of the budget bills, he would have to call another special session in June to head off a partial government shutdown on July 1…It’s not clear that a veto of the tax bill would trigger a special session. Dayton says he has big concerns about the fiscal impact of that $650 million package of tax cuts… Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, wants Dayton to veto the tax bill. Bakk said the governor could try to negotiate a smaller version with Republicans, to pass in a special session, or not do anything….But one clause of the bill includes funding for the state Revenue Department, and vetoing it could leave the department without money to operate….Despite an agreement with Republican leaders on the special session framework, Dayton never committed to signing their bills…Still, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, said he’s confident the governor will sign them. DAUDT: “He was at the table, and his commissioners and staff helped us put the bills together. That’s really why we’re in special session, because we felt like we were making progress enough,” Daudt said. “While that took a little more time than we originally hoped, we got it done, and with his help and support.” (emphasis added)

By emphasis, I have drawn your attention to the fact that Gov. Dayton, negotiating hard, got a lot of what he asked for from the Legislature. If he vetoes the Omnibus bills, he will be vetoing his credibility, such as it is.